Plasma catecholamine levels in the early stages of treatment-naïve Parkinson’s disease

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Rationale: Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder with predominant involvement of catecholamine-producing neurons of the central and peripheral nervous system. Taking into account the relative availability and low costs of plasma catecholamine measurements, it is worthwhile to study these parameters as biomarkers of the early stages of PD.

Aim: To determinate whether plasma levels of dopamine (DA), norepinephrine (NE), L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) and dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) in patients with early stages of PD are related with akinetic-rigid and tremor-dominant variants and to compare the results to healthy volunteers.

Materials and methods: This was an observational cross-sectional cohort study performed from 2012 to 2015. The main study group included unselected outpatients who attended the Republican Consultative and Diagnostic Center of Movement Disorders and Botulinotherapy (Kazan, Russia) with newly diagnosed early PD (Hoehn and Yahr stages I and II, 1967), of various ages and both genders, who had not been given any specific antiparkinsonian treatment. The control group included healthy volunteers with no clinical signs of PD (they could have other chronic diseases of the non-extrapyramidal origin). Plasma catecholamine levels were measured by gas liquid chromatography.

Results: One hundred and thirty (130) treatment-naïve patients with newly diagnosed PD (mean age 59.34 ± 8.42 years, male gender 45.38%) were enrolled into the main study group. The control group included 56 healthy volunteers matched for age and gender. The distribution of various PD forms and stages was as follows: PD tremor-dominant variant 56.9%, PD akinetic-rigid variant 43.1%; PD stage I 76.9%, PD stage II 23.1%. Irrespective of the variant and stage, the PD patients demonstrated decreased NE levels, compared to the controls (95% confidence intervals 124–216 and 248–428 pg/mL, respectively, р < 0.026). DOPA plasma level was reduced only in the patients with akinetic-rigid PD variant (р = 0.017), while DOPAC level in the patients with PD stage II (р = 0.008). The average DA:NE:DOPA:DOPAC ratio was 1:32:105:64 in the control group, 1:62:238:88 in the patients with PD tremor-dominant variant (the difference is significant for NE and DOPA, р < 0.05), and 1:29:96:32 in those with PD akinetic-rigid variant (p > 0.05). In the healthy controls the changes in DOPA levels account for 84% of the DA and NE variability; no correlation between DOPAC and other catecholamines was found. On the contrary, in the PD patients regardless of the stage and the disease variant, DOPAC levels directly correlated with DA (p < 0.04). The PD tremor-dominant variant patients demonstrated a direct correlation between plasma NE and DOPA levels (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: The results obtained on absolute and relative parameters catecholamine turnover in the patients with early PD stages support the hypothesis on different pathophysiology of the tremor-dominant and akinetic-rigid variants of PD.

About the authors

Z. A. Zalyalova

Kazan State Medical University;
Republican Consultative and Diagnostic Center of Movement Disorders and Botulinotherapy

Author for correspondence.

Zuleykha A. Zalyalova – MD, PhD, Professor, Neurology and Rehabilitation Department Kazan State Medical University, Head Republican Consultative and Diagnostic Center of Movement Disorders and Botulinotherapy

49 Butlerova ul., Kazan, 420012,

 5 Isaeva ul., Kazan, 420029

Russian Federation

D. M. Khasanova

Republican Consultative and Diagnostic Center of Movement Disorders and Botulinotherapy


Diana M. Khasanova – MD, PhD, Neurologist 

 5 Isaeva ul., Kazan, 420029

Russian Federation

M. V. Ugrumov

Koltzov Institute of Dеvеlорmеntаl Biology of Russiаn Асаdеmу of Sciences


Michael V. Ugrumov – Member of Russian Academy of Sciences, ScD in Biology, Head of Laboratory of Neural and Neuroendocrine Regulations

26 Vavilova ul., Moscow,119334

Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2018 Zalyalova Z.A., Khasanova D.M., Ugrumov M.V.

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